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10 things to do in the Amazon

Seeing a clay lick

Parrot clay licks can be found throughout the Amazon. Hundreds of parrots and macaws descend upon muddy banks each morning to peck away at the clay. This phenomenon is still unknown; however, it is thought that the mud is rich in minerals and salt as well as high PH levels which balance out the acidity of the Amazon. It’s a magical experience spending time in the hide watching this chaotic spectacle.

Gliding downstream in a dugout canoe

Flickr: Emil Kepko

An experience you’ll have at any Amazon lodge. Jump into traditional dugout canoes and glide silently along the waterways. Along the mangroves and lakes, monkeys can be spotted swinging through the trees, sloths peacefully hang from branches, iguanas bask in the sun and colourful parrots and macaws fly across the river.

Spotting pink river dolphins

A highlight for many. The mystery pink river dolphin can be found across the Amazon, particularly at the basin. They prefer the lowland fast flowing waters. They are the largest river dolphin specie in the world and are different from other dolphins in that it has a flexible neck allowing it to move in different directions. They can reach up to 3 metres in length. Like other dolphins, they are social and curious creatures and often approach the boat.

Hearing the roar of the howler monkey

There is a high concentration of howler monkeys in the Amazon. They are the loudest of all the monkey species, their cry being heard over 3 miles away. They often group at dawn or dusk and make whooping barks to let others know where their territory is. When you are staying in the Amazon, you will get used to their amazing sounds in the morning and evening.

Meet the indigenous tribes

For many, getting the opportunity to meet and learn from the indigenous tribes is the highlight of their Amazon adventure. Most Amazon lodges will take you to the local village to find out about their way of life. Learn about local medicinal plants and the wildlife. In some communities such as Kapawi or Huaorani in Ecuador, there are shamans, but stay away from the ayahuasca, it’s strong stuff!

Cruising the Amazon

For those who want to visit the Amazon in relative comfort, there are several cruises. The M/V Aqua takes guests on four-day cruises down through the Amazon stopping for wildlife spotting and hikes through the forest. Return back for some excellent cuisine and a comfortable night’s sleep in the luxurious air-conditioned rooms.

Scaling a canopy tower

If birdlife is a priority, be sure to pick a lodge that has a canopy tower. Sometimes, birdlife in the Amazon can be tricky to spot up through the thick tree line. However, up in the canopy, visitors can be up close to colourful exotic birds as well as monkeys and sloths. Some also include walkways to allow guests to move through the trees and maximise their chances of seeing wildlife. Try the Posada Amazonas whose tower stretches an impressive 25 metres high.

See the famous Amazon Theatre

The city of Manaus sits right in the heart of the Amazon. Rubber tabbing helped the city boom in the late 19th and early 20th century. So much so, a grand opera house was built here in 1896.  The theatre is quite a feat of engineering. Materials where brought in from around the world including tiles from Alsace, steel from Scotland and marble from Italy.

View the Meeting of Waters

Flickr: Rob

One of the highlights of a trip to the Brazilian Amazon is a visit to the Meeting of Waters. At the confluence between the Amazon River and the black Rio Negro, the waters meet and flow several miles downstream side by side without mixing. The phenomenon is down to the differences in speed, water density and temperature. Often the Meeting of Waters is seen en route to the lodge, but if not, it’s well worth taking a half day excursion to see this natural wonder.

Live with scientists

To get even more of an in depth look into the flora and fauna of the Amazon, consider staying at the Uakari Floating Lodge located just over 500 kilomtres from Manaus. The lodge hosts many scientists and researchers who accompany guests on tours into the jungle. Situated on the largest reserve of flooded rainforest in the world, there are over a million hectares of protected land to explore. During your stay, take jungle hikes and canoe rides to spot fresh water dolphins, alligators, monkeys, and birdlife.

To start planning your Amazon tour, call one of our travel experts on +44 (0) 207 407 1478 or take a look at our suggested tours here.

Here are the 10 best Amazon lodges in South America

With so many Amazon lodges, decided on which to visit can be confusing. With over 30-years’ experience in creating and planning tours to the continent, we’ve had experience in nearly all of them. Here’s the pick of the best Amazon lodges, taking into account level of comfort, experience of naturalist and local guides, itinerary, accessibility and region.

Cristalino Jungle Lodge, Alta Floresta, Brazil

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Let’s start with one of the most luxurious lodges. Located in the southern Brazilian region of the Amazon, the Cristalino is located in a private natural heritage reserve adjacent to the 456,800 acre Cristalino State Park. The surrounding area is rich in over 580 species of bird, many butterfly species, capaybaras, anteaters, river otters and many varieties of monkeys.

Uakari Floating Lodge, Tefe, Brazil

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To visit the Uakari Floating Lodge you must first take a flight to Tefe, deep in the Amazon. This flooded region of the Amazon is a wildlife lovers’ dream and scientists come from all over the world to study the species. It was constructed to enable scientists and tourists to explore the millon hectare reserve with minimal impact of the environment. Fresh water dolphins, alligators, opossums and monkeys among others can all be spotted from the lodge.

Napo Wildlife Lodge, Coca, Ecuador

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One of our favourite lodges in the whole Amazon, the Napo Wildlife Lodge is accessed by canoe from the jungle town of Coca. The 10 comfortable cabanas with private balconies overlooking the Napo River make an excellent base for wildlife excursions including parrot licks, canoe rides and nocturnal treks.

Anavilhanas Lodge, Manaus, Brazil

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Another luxury lodge, located on an archipelago of 400 islands on the Rio Negro River near to Manaus. Each island is adorned with thick rainforest and seasonal river beaches. The lodge is small with just 16 cabins, all of which are beautifully decorated with local arts and crafts. There is no shortage of wildlife including countless birds, tree-dwelling animals and aquatic life, including the pink river dolphin.

Tambopata Research Center, Manu, Peru

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The Tambopata Research Center is a comfortable 18-bedroom lodge situated by one of the world’s largest Macaw Clay licks on the uninhabited frontier of the Tambopata National Reserve and the Bahuaja-Sonene National Park. It was established to aid the protection of these magnificent birds and has a long-term research project to ensure the survival of their populations.

Juma Lodge, Manaus, Brazil

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Looking for something a little more authentic? This rustic lodge was carefully planned and built from local sustainable wood and palm leaves, so you would be forgiven for thinking this was an indigenous village. Each of the 23 simple but comfortable private bungalows sit on stilts overlooking Juma Lake.

Kapawi, Coca, Ecuador

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A community project run by the Achuar tribe, this lodge gives visitors a particularly good insight into local life. With the aim of protecting the nature reserve that surrounds the lodge, it’s an excellent spot for observing monkeys, birds, butterflies, fresh water dolphins and sloths. The lodges 20 bungalows may not be luxurious, but they are comfortable enough and made from local materials. The lodge has won a number of conservation awards.

Manu Wildlife Centre, Manu, Peru

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Manu Wildlife Centre consists of 22 double bungalows built in the style of, and using the same materials as, the local Machiguenga indigenous communities. Local wood, bamboo and palm fronds for roofing are used. It is owned by Expediciones Manu, and the Peru Verde Conservation Group, a non-profit, non-government organization involved in rainforest conservation projects.

Sani, Coca, Ecuador

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This eco-lodge establish and operated by the indigenous Sani tribe helps protect vast swathes of the surrounding pristine rainforest. Located between the Cuyabeño Reserve and Yasuni National Park, the area is teeming with wildlife including giant armadillo, giant anteater, woolly monkey, Amazonian manatee and the magnificent harpy eagle.

Reserva Amazonica, Puerto Madonado, Peru

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Exotic yet accessible, Reserva Amazónica Lodge is situated in a private reserve, surrounded by a vast jungle canopy. Inspired by native Amazon design 35 private thatched roof cabañas combine natural materials with contemporary amenities. Travelling to Tambopata National Reserve offers a rare opportunity to discover a lively biodiversity of birds, mammals, reptiles, insects and trees.

To start planning your tour of the Amazon, get in touch with us today.

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